Due to the dearth of stolen bases in the modern MLB, players who steal bases are getting pushed up more than ever. High steals guys are getting drafted above their value based on z-scores. This article provides alternatives to seemingly overvalued guys.
|Broke (Blue)||The SB option to fade|
|Woke (Pink)||A more reasonably priced SB option|
|Rank||Overall rank based on z-score (ATC projections)|
|Value||ADP minus “Rank”|
There are only 6 players projected to have more than 30 steals: Adalberto Mondesi, Mallex Smith, Trea Turner, Ronald Acuna, Villar, and Robles. If you are desperate for a top steal guy, maybe get Turner at the end of the first round. But be weary of taking Villar around 38th overall as you can get Robles more than 20 picks later to give you around 30 steals. Even Robles is not a great value, as he is ranked 77th in z-score overall but his ADP is 61.5. If Robles is able to get some at bats leading off for Washington, his runs and RBI totals have even more upside.
Another alternative to reaching for Villar is biting the bullet and drafting Starling Marte in the late second or early third round of your draft. This winter I tweeted (https://twitter.com/udownwithobp/status/1219775219750952960) Starling Marte was not as different from Trea Turner as people might think, although they also share difficulties staying on the field for 162 games. I decided not to make Turner vs. Marte on its own because I actually have nothing against taking Turner. While you can get almost 20 picks after Turner, keep in mind Marte is one more positive PED test from being suspended for a whole year.
|73||Bo Bichette||Blue Jays||17||2.06||70.6||-2.4|
Merrifield dropped from 45 steals in 2018 to 20 in 2019. He also got caught stealing 10 times last year. While the 31 year old Merrifield’s sprint speed has dropped slightly in each of the last 2 years, Bichette is just 22 so he should not be slowing down any time soon. While Bichette stole 20 bases last year across all levels, he was just 4 of 8 in the majors so that is cause for slight concern. That said, Bichette is a better bet for counting stats across the board as he will be leading off in a better lineup and a better home ballpark. Merrifield is likely being slightly overdrafted due to the perceived scarcity at 2B that I discussed here: http://udownwithobp.cafe24.com/2020/03/22/replacement-value-pt-2-position-scarcity-analysis/.
|121||Luis Robert||White Sox||18||0.20||78.0||-43.0|
|66||Tim Anderson||White Sox||21||2.15||93.7||27.7|
While Roster Resource projects Anderson to lead off, he only actually led off four times last year. However, the White Sox’s usual leadoff hitter last year, Leury Garcia, had a 0.310 OBP and 0.688 OPS last year. Anderson, the 2019 batting champion, has competition for the leadoff spot from top 80 fantasy pick Luis Robert as well as Nick Madrigal who is a player with amazing contact skills and average in the minors. While it would obviously be preferable for Anderson to stay in the top half of the lineup near Yoan Moncada and Jose Abreu, the White Sox have high hopes and a deep lineup this year with Eloy Jimenez, Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal, and Nomar Mazara. This will be an exciting lineup top to bottom.
A great waiver wire/FAAB pickup last year, nothing about his stat line last year really makes me think the man I call Oscar “Super” Mercado should drop off this year. The main question will probably be if he can duplicate his already below average output of 16 home runs as his exit velocity and hard hit percentage were in the 16th and 24th percentile, respectively. That said, his 97th percentile speed should allow for his BABIP to increase from 0.300. But as I explained in previous articles (http://udownwithobp.cafe24.com/2020/03/17/is-it-worth-it-to-take-an-early-catcher/ and http://udownwithobp.cafe24.com/2020/03/22/replacement-value-pt-2-position-scarcity-analysis/), I am a big proponent of a sort of “stars and scrubs” approach to outfield this year and Cain is a big target of mine.
Cain gets drafted 50 picks after Mercado but should offer similar stats. While Mercado’s StatCast numbers besides speed are a little underwhelming, they think Cain was pretty unlucky last year and his xBA (0.290) was 30 points better than his actual average. Cain will be 34 this season and his sprint speed has decreased in three straight years so maybe we should pump the brakes on expected steals a little. But he did have nagging knee, thumb, and ankle injuries last year that could have slowed him down. Hopefully he is “in the best shape of his life”, ready for a healthy, productive season.
I recently heard a respected fantasy baseball pundit ask something along the lines of, “why are we still trying to make Byron Buxton a thing?” Put some respect on his name! He is not a “rabbit” like Smith, a speed-only guy who only contributes to steals; he had an 0.827 OPS last year. An elite centerfield defender, Buxton will play every day when healthy. His sprint speed is third in the MLB after Turner and “Mr. HBP” Tim Locastro. One thing holding Buxton might be his spot at the bottom of the Twins stacked lineup, but he will not be the “center of attention” and it might free him up to steal a few more bases. And there will be plenty of people to drive in or be driven in by in this lineup with barely any flaws.
Here are some more stolen base options whose overall z-score rank is close to or higher than their ADP, representing a value:
|163||Cavan Biggio||Blue Jays||17||-1.03||164.7||1.7|